Distribution and Incidence

Legionellosis is easily overlooked, but has been found essentially wherever it has been sought. The weak staining of Legionella and its failure to grow on the usual bacterial diagnostic media allowed it to be missed for many years in the evaluation of persons with pneumonia. Once the right combination of staining and other diagnostic culture procedures was identified, Legionella was found to cause 1 to 2 percent of the pneumonia cases in the United States, or perhaps 25,000 to 50,000 cases annually.

Formal surveys of the incidence of legionellosis have not been done in most countries, but large numbers of cases have been identified in Great Britain and several European countries, and cases have been reported on all continents.

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